Blood delivery ensured to Thalassemia patients amid COVID-19 crisis

By Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali

LAHORE:, Apr 26 (APP):The ongoing coronavirus crisis has disturbed the routine activities of life not only in Pakistan but world over due to suspension of public transport operations and lockdown to halt the spread of virus for public health safety.
The lockdown across the country had impacted the Thalassemia patients in getting routine transfusions in the designated centers. The situation has also affected the donors’ mobility to donate blood to thalassemia centers. Therefore, the centers have started running out of blood stock for the patients.

Soon after sensing the gravity of the situation, the government has taken prompt measures to help resolve the issue on priority basis by directing the concerned departments, health forums and social organizations to launch a campaign for blood donations to overcome blood shortage for Thalassemia centers.

According to Pakistan Thalassaemia Centre (PTC) report, currently in the country, approximately 100,000 patients are suffering from Thalassemia. But within the limited resources and prevailing circumstances of coronavirus, the government has taken unprecedented measures to ensure smooth delivery of blood to the patients.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics document shows that share of children in the total population of the country since 2009 to 2018, between 0-14 age-group is 35 percent. Similarly, Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) report shows that one from each 14 children dies before reaching its first birthday and similarly one in every 11 children dies before reaching its fifth birthday.

The document further highlights that among other diseases, an estimated 5000 children with Beta (ß-Thalassaemia) are born per year. This number is the 5 to 8 percent among a 9.8 million total ‘carriers’ of the country’s population, it calculated.

Talking to APP, Chairman of Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Abrar-ul-Haq said that following the appeal and directions of the government, the PRCS, Islamabad and donors had jointly organized blood donation camps in which among others, more than 50 police personnel donated 250 blood pints. He said that due to the lockdown, closure of educational institutions and offices, the blood collection process was adversely affected and the community blood-donation drives could not e conducted.

He said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan had foresighted the situation and took wise decisions to control the pandemic, and time to time motivated the nation to stand brave in the COVID-19 pandemic. “Being a brave nation, we need strong nerves to combat COVID-19 pandemic”, he re-affirmed.

Abrar-ul-Haque lauded the Dawat-i-Islami Ameer, Maulana Ilyas Qadri and people, especially his followers for financially contributing and donating blood in the camps. “We extend great love for the people who contributed for Thalassaemia children on the call of the government in testing times amid COVID-19”, he added. “It was difficult for us to pour Thalassaemia patients into hospitals amid lockdown, these days, because of coronavirsus spread”, he said.

Medical Director Sundas Foundation, Dr Adnan Gilani said that beta Thalassaemia among children was a ‘major’ and one of the most severe forms of blood disorder. He said that during blood shortage, such patients face serious threat as blood makes only a few healthy red-blood-cells which even do not ensure life cycle for a long time.

This disorder is passed from parents to children through genetic inheritance and as a result, the red blood cells do not produce protein and enough hemoglobin that supplies oxygen throughout the body, he added. To a query, Dr Adnan Gilani said that children with Thalassaemia suffer severe medical complications, including life-long blood transfusions.

Following the government appeal to save the precious lives of the Thalassaemia children, Sundas Foundation with some other associations had organized 50 blood donation camps in which Punjab Police personnel, religious quarters and general public had donated more than 300 blood pints, Dr Adnan informed. The government appeal turned successful as the collected blood stock was sufficient enough for approximately 6,000 Thalassaemia patients till June, 2020, he said. “This number of patients was only registered with Sundas Foundation’s five centers located in Punjab province, and one in Islamabad” he added.